Great news for those of us who love Turkey Mountain. The City of Tulsa announced that Simon Property Group has formally withdrawn their proposal to build an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain and will pursue building the shopping center in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks. I love that Simon came to their senses. Building a shopping center on the mountain was a very stupid idea for a bunch of reasons. Kudos to a lot of people and organizations and especially the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition for getting this stopped. It is not often in Oklahoma that the people step up and say no to big business on something dumb like this. Their efforts got a lot more people into the park which made things kind of crowded sometime but I think people realized what a treasure we whad.
I celebrated the news of Simon Property Group abandoning their “Premium Outlet Mall” on Turkey Mountain by going for a run on the mountain. (What the heck is a Premium Outlet Mall anyway?)
We’ve had lots of rain here in Oklahoma and although we had two dry days there were patches of soggy trails here and there that slowed me down. It wasn’t too bad though. I started out on the blue trail, then did some of the pink trail, then just did my own thing, and then the yellow for a good distance and then did some more of my own thing.
I made it over to Pepsi Lake and it was great to see it full of water again. It was about to turn into a meadow a few months ago but it is full to the brim now.
There was even some water running over the spillway. It has been a long time since I have seen running water on the mountain.
This is the route I took. For some reason my watch didn’t start when I wanted it to but that’s okay. Life is good up on the mountain. I am very glad they outlet mall threat is gone.
Linking with Weekend Reflections
Have you heard the news!! Simon Property Group is abandoning their Turkey Mountain outlet mall project. They are going to put it in a much more appropriate site in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks. Read about it here. A site that people repeatedly brought up during the discussions on the project. The site should work better for Simon.
Of course the city of Jenks will get the sales tax revenue, or at least the promise of it given the huge subsidies that Simon was looking for in terms of paying for infrastructure and other types of corporate welfare they were looking for to help with the economics of the their project.
I couldn’t be happier for all involved. Now comes the real work. Money needs to be raised to buy the remaining land on Turkey Mountain at market value in order to preserve it. Tulsa is growing and it is just a matter of time before somebody else tries to develop it. It is not fair to the landowners to expect them to provide people like me free land to enjoy.
In the meantime, I’m happy that Simon came to their senses. I don’t think they expected the buzzsaw of opposition that they riled up with their proposal. I’m also proud of my fellow Tulsans. Despite Oklahoma’s populist roots, large corporations do pretty much what they want to do in Oklahoma these days. It is nice to see a little push back in a case like this where something bad was fixing to happen (as we say in Oklahoma.)
Tuesday night I went to a public meeting regarding Simon Group’s plans to put an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain. It was hosted by the City Councilor from the area, Jeannie Cue a very energetic and impressive woman. She made sure everybody who wanted to say something got to say it. There were other people there from the city including some planning staffers and Clay Bird of Tulsa’s office of Economic Development.
The bravest guy there was a local attorney representing Simon. He was hedging his bets a little bit speaking of Simon in the third person.
The city wants more businesses especially retail. The development guy, Clay Bird, said that Tulsa gets all its income from sales taxes. So retail is something that they target. I get that. I think most people get it, they just don’t want a mall on Turkey Mountain. Bird didn’t seem to grasp why. He kept saying things about it would only take up a little bit of the mountain and surely we could co-exist with the mall. That wasn’t really well received.
He lost the crowd though when he tossed out an idea that a parking garage could be built on the mountain to accommodate both mall shoppers and park users. People couldn’t believe it and let him have it. He recovered quickly with a quip about maybe putting a climbing wall on the side of the garage. He’s a good guy but he doesn’t get the concept of wilderness. Hiking, biking, or running on Turkey Mountain is not like doing the same in a public park. One needs the sense of space and remoteness and isolation.
During the Q&A it quickly became apparent that the overwhelming majority of people were okay with malls just not on the mountain. One comment that brought cheers was “It is the right project in the wrong place.” There was a lot of emotion against the mall. One guy spoke up for it pointing out that it is private property and he thought this was America. He got a smattering of applause.
And that brings up the whole problem. We may be able to get Simon to go away but the property is still private and it is zoned for development. As one questioner commented, we better be ready to buy the property if the mall fails. Amen. Anyone can see why Simon is interested in the property. It is near the confluence of two major highways in a hot area of town.
A spokesman for the Greater Tulsa YMCA read a Statement from the their Board of Directors stating their opposition unless Simon makes some concessions. They are asking about assurances on storm water management, water quality, setbacks, and maximum allowed building height. The proposed mall, as it is designed will loom over the YMCA’s Westside Y Day Camp unless changes like these are made.
It is kind of hard seeing how this can proceed. Through the efforts of such groups as the Urban Wilderness Coalition it seems that the profile of Turkey Mountain as something good is being raised. I can tell you that the park is being used considerably more than what it was even last year. I’m seeing lots of families out and about in the park.
Personally I think Simon Property Group should abandon their project. And then it will be up to people of Tulsa to acquire the property at a fair price.
Channel 6 was there
And Channel 5 was there
Simon Properties made their first official move to make their planned outlet mall on Turkey Mountain a reality. They submitted plans to the Tulsa Metropolitan Planning Commission including a plot plan. (Thank you to the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition for posting the drawing.)
The drawing is oriented so that north is to the right. If you study on it you see that the eastern edge of the proposed development butts up right next to a creek. If you read the elevations you can see that that they are planning on building a reataining wall that will be up to 75 feet tall, right at the edge of the creek.
Above is a nearby shopping center, Tulsa Hills. It probably has about the same amount of elevation over the ground but is staged by two retaining walls and two sloped areas. Simon, to save space and shoehorn as big a parking lot as possible is just going with one wall.
I also don’t see any storm water retention ponds or anything so in my inexpert opinion whenever there is a strong rainstorm, instead of 48 acres of earth to help absorb and slow down runoff, it is all going to run off of the paved parking lot and then dumped into the creek, along with whatever trash it gathers along the way, and flushed right into Lake Logan at the West Side YMCA. I don’t think this plan is a good start.
This mall is going to be a disaster for Turkey Mountain. Simon Properties is just putting their heads down and is bulling right on ahead.
We are going to see lots of asphalt and lots of cars and lots of stores selling crap. Also, this huge mall is only going to have one entrance, off a two lane road from a freeway instersection with no lights. I’m expecting that they will want the road and the intersection upgraded at no cost to them as an “incentive.” I’m also sure that will want some fancy tax treatment to pay for infrastructure as more incentives. They are building on private land so they can do what they want but I don’t want to incentivize them. I’d like them to go somewhere else in town. Perhaps to a failed existing shopping center and redevelop it.
Instead of an urban wilderness where we can refresh ourselves.
Our vistas are all going to manmade.
Instead of what God made.
What to do?
This is far from settled. Simon is making noises about opening Fall 2016 but this should be far from settled.
Contact your City Councilor
Contact the Mayor
Check out the Tulsa Metropolitan Planning Commission
Stay informed with the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition
Since the controversy erupted about Simon Properties‘ plans to put an 800,000 square foot outlet mall on Turkey Mountain you would think that all there is on Turkey Mountain is trails. Goodness knows there are trails on Turkey Mountain.
There are big wide trails and there are very faint, barely used, tracks through the grass and brush and everything in between.
The trails are used by runners, walkers, hikers, bikers, and even a few unicyclers. There is a lot more than trails on Turkey Mountain. Yep.
There are petroglyphs. I had heard about them and it took me a while to find but I finally found them.
Some say they were made by the vikings way back when or the Celts. Who knows. I think such things are a lot more interesting than anything I have found in an outlet mall.
What do you think?
I’ll tell you something else that goes on up on the mountain. Logan and I went up there to check our geocache in an area called Rock City. We found a several guys up there with their radio controlled jeeps negotiating the rocks. It was pretty darned interesting watching them maneuver their cars around the various obstacles.
Now that beats the pants off an outlet mall any day. Well guess what. I’m not really sure but if that mall goes in I am thinking that Rock City will be part of the mall. Yep, the best you can hope for is a Nike discount store. Buy two get a third half off is my motto.
Do you know what else goes on up there. Geocaching and geocaching is all about families and being outside and adventure. Kiss that goodbye also.
And you know something else, geocaching is all about whimsy and serendipity. You won’t find any elves doors at the mall. Not one you could afford anyway. This one is free. It is on a pretty darn steep slope. Find the cache with one hand and hold for dear life with other is the method I recommend.
Know what else? How about an Oklahoma Rock? It is probably safe from the bulldozers, for now at least. You know how it is, haters have to hate, and developers have to develop. It’s in the Bible somewhere. I think.
The thing about Turkey Mountain is that is not a real wilderness. It has old abandoned farms, cisterns, fields, and lots of oilfield. I think it used to be kind of an outlaw kind of place that is slowly going back to nature. If only we would let it.
There are lots of ghosts up on the mountain. You can almost see them at certain times late in the evening when almost everbody has gone home. There is an air of mystery about it.
Anyway Turkey Mountain is unique. A wilderness within sight of downtown. It is important to keep it that way. An outlet mall can go anywhere. If you think we need one of course. We’ve been doing fine without is my opinion. Here is a little more information on the matter.
And here is some information about the George Kaiser Family Foundation regarding their property on Turkey Mountain. They own 139 acres and pledge not to develop it. Lots of people thought that the acquisition happendd this week and that the mall is prevented. Actually, if I understand correctly, they have owned the property for some time. I guess that I have a little take on their announcement. I see it as a head nod to Simon to go ahead and send the bulldozers in, we won’t oppose you. I guess I’m a little cynical maybe. The Foundation has been really good to Tulsa They are a great supporter of the Turkey Mountain but I detect a note of surrender in their announcement. The foundation is putting together a mammoth park project on the River Parks called A Gathering Place for Tulsa. It will cost over $300 million and will be wonderful. Check out the Link.
Trail Zombie’s Post concerning the environmental impact.
The Tulsa Voice article referenced in Trail Zombie’s Post
New Facebook Page – Forgotten Malls of Tulsa reminding us that all malls have a lifecycle and it doesn’t last very long.
Blog Post by Bob Doucette on zoning and land use
There is big news here in Tulsa, Simon Property Group wants to build an “Upscale Outlet Mall” here. That is just great. We need economic development and jobs and investment and all that good stuff. I just have one problem with the concept.
They want to build it on Turkey Mountain right near the Turkey Mountain Wilderness Park. The outlet mall is going to be huge, covering 53 acres. Simon Properties Woodland Hills Mall is a little over 60 acres. As near as I can tell the spot where I took the photo above would be inside the outlet mall.
It is going to ruin a lot of things about Turkey Mountain. The one place in Tulsa where one can get away from it all.
Turkey Mountain is home to a lot of critters, Everything from snakes, turtles, and deer to…
… thousands of people: geocachers (above), hikers, runners, bicyclist, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and just people wanting to go get their heads clear.
This is the wrong place to build an outlet mall. There are other places in the city where it wouldn’t have such a drastic effect.
I know that it is private property and I’m all for property rights as anyone else but not when it has such a drastic effect on the adjoining property. Plus it is anticipated that Simon Properties will be demanding subsidies and special tax treatment to make their project feasible. (Why is it that giving money to starving people is welfare and giving money to multi-billion dollar companies is incentives?) I don’t know about you but I’m not really wanting to provide incentives to somebody to destroy a wilderness and pave it over.
So, I will be writing to the Mayor and writing and talking to my City Councilor and contacting Simon Properties Group to see if they can make a wiser decision on locating their new Outlet Mall.
I am saying No to the Turkey Mountain site. Build in Tulsa if you wish, but do it somewhere else.
What about you? Have you ever fought City Hall on anything?